I first saw the trailer for this movie in a little television between elevators in my apartment building. It was barely playing any sound, but the scenes looked energetic enough for me to be interested. The trailer was dramatic and loud, and a little too preachy for my taste. The subtitle of the movie is “Let the truth prevail”. It was still interesting because it was obvious the theme was relevant to our country, and because of the fact that its cast had Sumeet Vyas (Mikesh from Permanent Roommates). I wanted to see what kind of an actor he was outside of his comedic scenes. The trailer was definitely misleading.
The movie turned out to be quite calm. It is characterised by its documentary-drama like filming technique, which makes it even more powerful because I didn’t know which parts not to believe. The move talks about a sensitive issue, one that our country has struggled with for a long time – female infanticide. Hence, it is a given that the film will be serious and trying very hard to get a point across.
Kajarya was bold with this message, showing the contrast between the journalist Meera and a woman believed to be possessed by Kali, Kajarya. Meera is shown throughout the movie as a multi-dimensional character, with a persistent belief in justice, and yet she reacts with weakness when the justice is questioned. Kajarya, on the other hand, is dealing with harsher chemicals. Her transformation from a person hooked to opium, to someone who is behind bars but drug-free, is intense to notice. Both actresses have done a fine job of portraying their own characters well, but Ridhima Sud as Kajarya herself was extremely convincing. Her story in the film is riveting, and extremely sad.
The story keeps us in the city of Delhi, and also takes us to a remote village in Haryana where the villages participate in a cruel practice with a cosmological belief. The scenes with the villagers, and not the actors, were a few of the best scenes in the film. One that I especially liked was when Meera goes to the women of the village near their water pump, and the women refuse to trust her again. We also see Meera dealing with her life in Delhi – the parties, her boyfriend (played by Sumeet Vyas) and his family, and his job as a junior reporter where she does not believe she is taken seriously enough.
The cruelty associated with female infanticide is generally not a major point of concern for most who hear about it because it has been talked about so often. However, Kajarya does so in an manner that will give you goosebumps. It is difficult to judge which parts of it were accurate and which were not, because some were so shocking, it was difficult to digest. It is still true that 3 millions girls go ‘missing’ in our country. However, some scenes in the film are too dramatic and not vocal enough about the theme for it to have too much lasting impact.
The music of the film has been composed by Richard Horowitz who is an Academy Award nominee. There is a decent cover of “Mohabbat ki jhoothi kahani” in the film which made me hear the song in a very similar light to the original in Mughal-e-Azam. It is suitably placed in the film, and while there is not much else music, this song particular is enough in the narrative as it was being told.
There was some amount of antagonisation of men in the film, and it is difficult for me to tell whether it was an objective narration or a subjective transformation of the truth in order to tell a story. Kajarya’s fate was certain, however, even in that kind of fate, she seems cleaner, purer and dignified in spite of the fact that she did commit the crimes, someone who is too idealistic a character in comparison to a real human being. This is more so done with female characters. While male characters in films are glorified to the point of unrealism, women’s characters are made extremely likable and ideal, as both the genders are perceived as. On the other hand, the men were made to be the villains, even Meera’s boyfriend who is played by Sumeet Vyas. It feels like his character is so antagonised that you are left wondering why he was her boyfriend in the first place; there are no progressions in the movie that seem to denote anything about their relationship other than the fact that he is not a likable character. Meera, on the other hand, is redeemed again and again with some quality that she is not otherwise seen to possess. Whether this is character progress, or a mistake made due to not enough work going into the storyline, is for you to decide.
Certain scenes in the film were too dramatic and sensational, especially some parts that were shot in the village. It becomes difficult to take a documentary-drama seriously when parts of it are weak and unrealistic, especially when it pertains to a serious issue like female infanticide, something that has been discussed in a variety of different ways.
For it’s depiction of a very real issue in our country, Kajarya is a helpful and poignant commentary. However, in terms of filmmaking and in-depth characterisation, it falters slightly, and in spite of this, the movie is definitely worth one watch.